Kathleen A. Cordes
Kathleen A. Cordes, professor emeritus, is an elected fellow in the American Leisure Academy and is vice president of the board of trustees for the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (CAHPERD) Foundation for the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles. In her capacity as interim director for the American Association for Leisure and Recreation (AALR), she served on the executive board for the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) in Reston, VA. As a member of the White House Green Robbin Panel, Cordes served on the millennium trails committee and authored American's Millennium Trails (AAHPERD), an official project of the White House Millennium Council.
She is also author of America's National Historic Trails and America's National Scenic Trails (University of Oklahoma Press). With Ibrahim, she authored Applications in recreation and Leisure (McGraw-Hill) and Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Service Management (Eddie Bowers). Cordes was honors director and chair of physical education at Miramar College in San Diego; chair of physical education recreation at Whittier college (CA); athletic director at Saint Mary's College (IN); professor and first woman to coach a varsity sport (tennis) at the University of Notre Dame (IN); and a visiting professor at the University of Zulia and the University of the Andes (Venezuela). She is the recipient of AALR's Outstanding Achievement Award and CAHPERD‘s Past Presidents' Award of Merit. both organizations also presented her with their Distinguished Service to Leisure and Recreation awards. Cordes is listed in the Who's Who of American Women (2007) Who's Who of America‘s Teachers (2008), and Who's Who of America.
Behind The Cover
- What was your favorite recreational activity growing up?
It was always great to take family trips across this fascinating country with my family. We would visit my grandparents in Indiana and Washington, D.C., always taking different routes from California. Along the way, we visited so many of our national parks and monuments and participated in various outdoor activities, especially hiking. Attracted to museums and architectural sites en route, we also had the opportunity to learn about the history of our states and the people who live/ed there. I have no doubt that these experiences inspired many of my choices throughout life.
- How do you bring leisure/recreation to your life?
I still love to visit parks and wilderness areas. I have backpacked on our national trails and also traveled them by canoe, raft, kayak, horseback,bicycle, cross-country skis, snowshoes, dogsleds, and even bush plane and wagon train. Every experience in life is priceless. I always walk every day. Tennis, golf, and gardening are also favorites.
- When you started college, what did you see yourself doing after graduation?
In the summers, I worked for the recreation and parks department. By the time I graduated, I was offered a full-time position. I decided instead to continue with my studies as a graduate assistant and varsity tennis coach. In that capacity, it became clear to me that I wanted to be a college professor.
- How did you get started in this career?
I believe it was a willingness to give everything a try. In my first college position, I taught History of Sport and Leisure, Philosophy of Sport and Leisure, Elementary School Physical Education, Synchronized Swimming, and coached tennis, golf, volleyball and had a Modern Dance troupe. Whew! When I was later asked to teach at the University of Notre Dame and coach tennis there, I learned everything I could about ice skating just because I thought I was going to be askedto teach it. Although that never happened, I was ready! I did end up teaching modern dance to our football players and many of our track stars. They were some of the best dancers I ever worked with. At Whittier College, we had a major in recreation that always attracted wonderful students. Our curriculum was interesting and somewhat inventive. For instance, the outdoor recreation class I taught was paired with beginning Spanish. We learned about the subject in my class, but actually participated in various activities in the Spanish class. If we went fishing, for example, we learned all the terms needed in Spanish and only spoke that language during class. We all seemed to think that the two combined courses expanded opportunities and created some realistic settings.
- Best trait of a successful student?
I always like to see eagerness to learn and a willingness to make mistakes in the process. These traits help us to learn to think critically. Because life and career involve constant change and adaptation, this ability will eventually guide us in all that we do.
- What issue within our field do you think needs to be addressed/solved that will greatly improve leisure and recreation for everyone?
We need to know more about urban barriers to participation on public lands. When we understand how we can continue to lift these barriers, our public lands can continually be used to improve the physical and psychological health of involved individuals. In turn, increased exposure to public lands would likely result in stronger support for public lands and the environment. This could benefit all of us.
- Top three people (alive or dead) you would like to have lunch with?
I’d love to have a nice adult conversation with my Irish great aunts and uncles. They were only alive when I was a child, and I loved them dearly. I have a feeling that there would be lots of laughter, but it would also be interesting to have some serious conversations. No doubt, it would also be amazing to sit down to lunch with artist Charles Russell, guide Sacagawea, and actress Meryl Streep!
- A message for current students about the future of this field?
The growing number of older adults and single adults are bringing about new and differing job opportunities. Overall, the future de pends on creativity and very well-planned, practical partnerships.
- With unlimited budget, staff, and resources, what research/program would you do/run? Why?
Connecting hiking and biking trails in communities so that everyone would have a means to travel without reliance on automobiles. When I worked as the Interim Director for the American Association for Leisure and Recreation for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) in Reston, Virginia, I was so impressed that I could simply walk to a grocery store or park by trail. My car was not a necessity for daily activities in this community as it is where I live now.
- What made you decide to write Applications in Recreation & Leisure?
I wanted to write a book with the student in mind. To do so, it was important that such a comprehensive study be made practical. After all, leisure pursuits and recreational activities play such a major role in our lives. To cover such an extensive subject, we need to gain a meaningful understanding of these activities and the complex organization needed to provide leisure services to a diverse public. In doing this, it is easy to forget that our subject is all about heart since there are so many facts to consider. This book takes a look at recreation and leisure from philosophical, psychological, and sociological perspectives. It examines issues and challenges affected by current trends and looks at leisure throughout the life course.